How Fear Can Ruin Your Mastermind Group

Let’s cut to the chase: Your group has been active for a few months and everyone is getting along fine. Then all of a sudden, people stop showing up on time. Or they’re not prepared. Or their creativity is blocked and the group brainstorming stinks.

What Happened?

It’s simple. Mastermind groups ask people to grow and change. People want to grow and change…or at least they say they do.

But when the rubber hits the road and you ask people to not only set goals but to be held accountable for completing goals, things fall apart.

Fear raises its ugly head and people in a mastermind group stop working efficiently together. You’ve heard the litany of fears:

  • What if I’m successful? Will it ruin my life?
  • What if I fail? Will it ruin my life?
  • What if others get jealous? Will it ruin my life?
  • What if I run out of money? Will it ruin my life?
  • What if I make the wrong decision? Will it ruin my life?

(Notice how each fear goes to the worse-case scenario? That’s what fear does to us, and that’s how you’ll be able to spot it in your mastermind group Hot Seats.)

How to Fix It

First of all, tell people in the very first meeting that fear is likely to come up in a month or two, so that they’re prepared for it. Find out from them what their common fears are around change, growth and learning curves. Ask them to keep a journal of their thoughts and feelings so that they can identify when fear arrives — and deal with it — before it grabs a hold and won’t let go.

Second, ask the mastermind group to support each other knowing that this sluggish time will happen to nearly everyone in the group. Create space in your meetings for people to talk about their fears and the way they self-sabotage themselves. Brainstorm with each other to find ways of dealing with the problem.

Finally, keep holding each other accountable to take action. You might need to ratchet back the action items into smaller steps, making them less daunting and more do-able. But don’t allow people to stop taking action and wallow in fear.

Being prepared in advance for this to happen will help your mastermind group tough it out during these small crises. After all, that’s what you’re in a mastermind group for — support, brainstorming and accountability!


Why Is Accountability Important?

In your process of creating success, you’ve created a massive To Do list, right?

Accountability is one of the cornerstone principles in mastermind groups. Accountability is all about helping others to reach their goals through purposeful, sustainable action.

Wikipedia describes accountability as, “A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A’s (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case of eventual misconduct.”

Well, I’m not so sure about the “suffer punishment” part when you talk about accountability in mastermind groups, but certainly setting up an accountability structure can help Person A get things done and Person B can help hold their feet to the fire.

In the Coaching industry, we often suggest that people have an Accountability Partner, a person who agrees to:

  • Pay close attention to your overall goals
  • Keeps a list of which actions you say you will achieve (and the due date for each action)
  • Reminds you when actions are not completed or not achieved by the deadline date
  • Challenges you when the actions you take are not leading toward the goal you desire

The power of an Accountability Partner is that you do the same for them. This mini-mastermind helps to extend the power of a mastermind group between meetings, and works in tandem with setting and keeping goals within the mastermind meetings themselves.


A 90-Day Mastermind Group: What An Idea!

Most mastermind groups last at least six months, and many last for years. But some people have concerns about starting or committing to a long-term mastermind group. After all, how long should your mastermind group live?

Here’s an antidote to the commitment problem: start your mastermind group and limit it to 90 days. In this way, members can get to know one another, mastermind and brainstorm together, and see if it’s a good “fit” for everyone. After the 90 days are up, the group can vote whether to continue or not.

I just finished leading a 90-day mastermind group that ran from June to August. One mastermind group member wrote, “The group support really helped me to look at my business differently and to think through my business strategy to attain a better approach to marketing and to fine tune the services that I offer to my clients!” All in 90 days.

Here are some key points to consider:

  1.  How often you meet. Because you’re only going to be meeting for 90 days, you have a shortened horizon for people to get to know, like and respect each other. Consider meeting every week or every two weeks during those first 90 days so that people have the maximum exposure to one another and have a chance to connect as a group. In my Leap Year group, we met twice a month for three months.
  2. Extreme commitment. Since your mastermind group will be of short duration, everyone must attend every meeting and you need written guidelines about the rules of membership. As the mastermind group facilitator, it’s your job to schedule the meetings and post the dates and times, and ask everyone to block those times out of their calendar in advance. In this way, people are agreeing to attend every meeting and participate fully in every meeting.
  3. Length of meetings and Hot Seats. There’s always a toss-up between the value of shorter mastermind meetings versus longer ones. However, when you’re trying to provide great value in a short amount of time, consider lengthening the meeting time to longer than you might normally offer. A good rule of thumb: allow 15-30 minutes per member, per month. In our mastermind group, meetings were 90 minutes long and everyone rotated in the Hot Seat (most Hot Seats were 20 minutes). It was my job as the Facilitator to make sure everyone got equal chance to be in the Hot Seat.
  4. Decide if you’ll have an online message forum. Because the group is only meeting for 90 days, there’s a lot of energy and activity among the group members. An online message forum allows the members to communicate with each other between meetings, so that brainstorming, action planning, and implementation support occurs 24/7 throughout the 90 day mastermind group.

A 90-day mastermind group can kick-start the members, gain rapid connection, and show fast results. This keeps members coming back for more!


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